The Art of Listening

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I think being a dad makes me a much better manager. Why? Because I’ve learned how to listen. With a wife and two girls at home, listening skills are mandatory to maintaining a happy environment. I’ll just leave it at that!

So, those skills have transferred beautifully to my life as owner here at City Lumber and I think I’ve done a fair job of instilling that throughout my business as well.

One of my favorite things to do is walk around the store and simply listen to what’s going on around me. Then I go outside and walk through the warehouses and listen there too. I really think more business owners should try and listen to what’s going on around them more often. We get so busy “doing” (and meeting) that we can lose sight of what really matters.  By just walking around and keeping my mouth shut, I learn so much about my people and how important they are to the success of our company.

So that’s why I do it; to remember what makes us special. We have such great people here but it becomes a lot more obvious when I observe them simply doing their jobs and interacting with our customers.

There are people here who’ve been in this business almost as long as I’ve been alive. They’ve seen every possible scenario (bad and good) and found solutions that consistently work. They are craftsmen. They are experts. They come here everyday for the love of their jobs and the people they serve.

I would never have realized all this unless I took the time to stand up and simply walk around and listen to them as they work. It’s so important to understand that in a service business like ours, your customers are right in front of you, so mistakes are costly.

We have to be both good and knowledgeable in our products and services, but operate in such a way to leave our customers happy and sure to return to us next time.

I’m proud to say that these principals that guide my own family also guide us here at City Lumber.

So, I throw out this challenge to you. Whether you’re a business owner or not, take a moment today and listen to your workplace or even your household. Hear what’s going on around you. Listen for the things that you expect to hear and maybe take note of the things you didn’t expect. What’s working well? Where do you hear conflict or frustration?

I bet you hear some things that remind you why you love your job. I also bet you start doing this more often.



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